En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - September 03, 2010

From: Rosenberg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: How can I tell the age of a Pecan tree in Rosenberg, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


How can I tell the age of a Pecan tree? I live on the Brazos River and have a lot of large Pecan trees but the largest is approx. 11 ft. around.


The answer depends on how precise you want to be. The most accurate method would be to cut down the tree and count the growth rings. That sounds a little drastic, so I will give you a couple of alternatives

This link suggests that there is a good correlation between the circumference of the tree and its age (circumference in inches equals age in years), and its easy enough to measure the circumference of the tree. Or this link suggests a similar correlation between the diameter of the tree and its age. You'll have to use some math skills to determine the diameter  ( d = C/pi).

The third method invovles extracting a core sample from the trunk of the tree using an increment borer. This technique is commonly used by foresters as a management tool in forests. You of course would need to have an increment borer and some expertise in using it and in handling and analyzing the core once it is obtained.

I've included links to the University of Tennesee and Auburn University for extensive descriptions on the use of an increment borer.

If you choose to go the increment borer route, the folks at the Fort Bend county office of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service or the Houston office of the Texas Forest Service may be able to help.


More Trees Questions

Live oak trees buzzing in Taylor TX
October 20, 2012 - Is it possible for live oak trees to make a buzzing sound? We have heard this sound under our live oak and were worried it was bees but we don't seem to see any. I also heard the buzzing under my mot...
view the full question and answer

Is it wise to cut suckers from live oak branches in April in Austin
April 07, 2010 - My live oak branches are filling with suckers and I would like to cut them now, April. Is that wise?
view the full question and answer

Desert Willow size question from Austin, TX
June 12, 2015 - Dear MSP, I have a desert willow named Edith. We got her from the CoA a couple of years ago for recycling our Chirstmas tree. She's doing well except her three little trunks are teeny-tiny. We wan...
view the full question and answer

Replacing Drought-Stricken Cedars
January 16, 2012 - Hello, I live in Williamson County on a couple acres. We have several dead cedars as a result of drought; we're reluctant to cut them down because many of them provide a friendly barrier between us...
view the full question and answer

Pruning tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
June 05, 2009 - Thank you for your answer regarding when my tulip tree will flower. I also understand it can/will grow to over 100 feet so should we be pruning it a certain way to keep it contained? thank you
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center